Mickey Abbey, Artist, Custom GlassWorks at High Hand

Mickey Abbey and Wonder Woman Credit Are You That WomanMickey Abbey, a Sacramento native and Midtown dweller, started his stained glass art business more than 40 years ago at 18th and L streets. Next door to Mario’s Italian Cellar, now Crepeville, Custom GlassWorks survived changing times, while other familiar Sacramento haunts faded away. Mickey’s Wonder Woman (circa 1982) which graced the Crocker Museum and the glass canopy over Kupro’s Craft House are Midtown landmarks.

In his own words:  "I took a painting class at San Francisco State and discovered my art DNA. After four years working in Macy’s Union Square display department, I returned to my Sacramento roots. You come home because it’s comfortable.  Back in the day, Midtown was happening. We were just a group of guys doing a craft shop – Beginning – with woodwork, metal, sculpture, and stained glass.  There was nothing else down here at that time. 

I have come full circle doing today what I did in the '70s. Work and live in my studio, the doors open, impromptu music. It hasn‘t changed much. There weren't so many people living down here and everyone gathered at a handful of places – most no longer exist. Now, the choices are unlimited."

Mickey GlassNever one to be idle, Mickey continues to create and share his art. A new display at High Hand Nursery & Cafe in Loomis features more than 20 original stained glass works of art. All pieces are available for purchase or have the glass master design something custom. The possibilities are endless. You'll be smiling wide the first time sunlight shines through and streams a rainbow across the room. Find time to visit Mickey at High Hand Nursery & Cafe. It's a true destination – art gallery, cafe, nursery, flower and gift markets – a day-trip adventure.

 

 

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Sacramento day-trips to regional secret gardens

Gardens grow everything from edibles and flowers to botanical history and strange works of art. Use leisure time to explore nearby secret gardens – conventional and not. Slow down. Enjoy the landscapes. Getting there is half the fun. To unearth these secrets use GPS, Google Maps, road maps, and age-old technology of calling ahead for directions.

Go Discover! Lotus Valley Nursery & Gardens
Petersen Lane, Lotus, CA 

Lotus Valley Nursery & Garden Credit Barbara L Steinberg3A quick retreat up Highway 50 east to Ponderosa Road, left across the highway and right on North Shingle. Wind your way and stay left at the ‘Y’ onto Lotus Road, left at the Bassi Road stop sign and stay straight onto Petersen Lane. Views of the American River are on your right before turning into Lotus Valley Nursery & Gardens’ secreted entrance.

Owners, Joe and Bob, turned a three-acre old homestead into a heaven of ornamental grasses and demonstration gardens. They invite you to come and discover. Bob’s handcrafted sculptures and water features are cleverly displayed in the “Tin Room Gallery” and throughout the garden. You can spend quiet hours strolling, picnicking, and contemplating. A variety of serene sitting areas beckon. Clearly, they want you to stay.  Plenty of other nearby distractions keep you close, including local wineries. Open Wed-Sun 9am to 5pm through November. Open in the winter by appointment. Lotus Valley is magical.

Continue down Lotus Road to Highway 49 north to the Dave Moore Nature Area along the south fork of the American River; half the trails are wheelchair accessible. If you skipped the picnic, there are plenty of breakfast, lunch and dinner options at Lotus and Coloma. You can loop back to Sacramento along Highway 49 to Interstate 80 – enjoy the scenic route which is about 100 miles round-trip.

Go Explore! Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture
Oakwilde Ranch & Sculpture Credit Barbara L Steinberg30
South Burson Road, Valley Springs, CA

Take Highway 99 south to Highway 26 east towards Valley Springs. Ready yourself for scenic vistas. Two-lane country roads framed by orchards, vineyards, and small towns are visually soothing. On 52 acres, owners Denise and Kresimir are cultivating art and relationships along groomed trails and undulating hillsides. The winding road delivers sculptures, hospitality, wine tasting, spring wildflowers, and beautiful views. Ranch hikes are an adventure in search of sometimes elusive art installations and views of Calaveras County foothills from the “Top of the World.” Call ahead for an appointment and directions.

If you still have time on your return, Lodi wineries are plentiful and freeway-close.

Go Seek! Regional Parks Botanic Garden
Intersection of Wildcat Canyon Road & South Park Drive, Berkeley, CA

It’s a straight shot down Interstate 80 to urbane and sometimes eccentric Berkeley. Day-trippers overlook that East Bay Regional Park District protects
secret gardens and thousands of acres of open space in the Berkeley hills. The Regional Parks Botanic Garden is a charming destination and less than 90 miles from downtown Sacramento. Ten acres of California native plants are organized by geographic regions of the state.  The garden was established by James Roof in the 1940s and contains rare and endangered species such as Presidio Manzanita and Small-leaved Rose. Regional Parks Botanic Garden Credit Barbara L Steinberg3Built along meandering trails and bridges the garden feels primordial. Grassy areas are perfect for running; children are welcome to do so.


The annual April spring plant sale is a rare opportunity to purchase plants propagated from the Garden’s collection. Many of these California native plants are available nowhere else.  All proceeds benefit the Garden. Free public tours are held most rain-free weekends and group tours are available by special arrangement.

Just a few miles away, the stunning University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley is 34 acres of formal gardens and glasshouses, with more than 13,000 different kinds of plants from around the world.

Go Sac! Go Yol! Go Sol! Gardens Galore
Gardens at Sacramento Old City Cemetery Credit Anita Clevenger3Sacramento gardens are many. Don’t be surprised, but none more special than those at the Old City Cemetery! The 3-acre Historic Rose Garden gives life to nearly 500 antique and old garden roses many found in abandoned sites, homesteads, cemeteries, and roadsides throughout northern California. The aroma is heavenly.  Hamilton Square, named after Alexander Hamilton’s youngest son, contains perennials from all five Mediterranean climates of the world.  A California Native Plant Society has created a garden among the headstones. It’s phenomenal in the springtime.

Garden lovers rejoice! The options are many and close-by. In adjacent Yolo County, the 1.5-acre UC Davis Good Life Garden at the Mondavi Center Institute for Wine and Food Science is an edible and ornamental Fairfield Suisun Valley Glashoff Sculpture Credit Are You That Womanlandscape. Learn new gardening concepts and eat healthy, too!

Cross one more county border into Solano. A well-kept secret, Suisun Valley hides the fantastical Phillip Glashoff Sculpture Garden. Williams Road, a country lane off Suisun Valley Road, does not easily give up this secret. Wander the driveway and no farther. Dozens of sculptures along the way and in the field will leave you wide-eyed.  Easier to spot is another small collection on Rockville Road.

 

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If my Subaru can't get me there, that's a good reason not to go!


Morning meditation

The best part of the day. Morning.

Buddha in the garden Credit Are You That WomanAs I take clothes from the line, the moment of simplicity washes over me. Birds sing from hedges. A cool breeze. A plane buzzes overhead. In the distance, even the droning traffic is blissful. Hear the leaves rustle softly. Later in the day, afternoon heat will silence their sweet voices. Bees are humming around blossoms. Parenting scrub jays search for morsels to feed their screeching brood. Pestering cats must be shooed and clapped away. I've already blessed the garden with a morning shower, discovered the first grapes and a smiling Buddha drenched in sunlight.

These peaceful interludes are inspiration. Tapping deep into my soul and pushing me Garden grapes Credit Are You That Womanto write. Sit quiet in this garden temple. Sip tea and watch morning unfold. The raucous mockingbird dances above the power pole. One small voice, a hummingbird. I quickly turn my head to see. To hear. The pack of bees is growing. Blue flowered branches bounce under their persistent explorations. A honey bee wards off a much larger carpenter bee. A thirsty scrub jay sips from the water bowl.

A momentary rest, I lift my head from the notebook. Endlessly entertained, that crazy mockingbird calls and leaps. I stretch. My wayward hand elicits gentle notes from the wind chimes.

IMAG4044Each day, rising almost with the sun, I beg myself to stay nestled in sleep. But morning waits! Zzyzx is already catnapping. Nothing about her 17 years, it's #whatcatsdo! I nuzzle her, scratch under her chin and disturb her daily sabbatical. All parts of this hallowed respite. Then she finds me as I end this post as it began -- meditating on my garden view.

 

Zzyzx napping Credit Are You That Woman